Saddam Hussein took the stand for the first time yesterday in his ongoing trial in Baghdad. And he’s apparently not been following the news, as he insisted he’s still the president of Iraq.
On the stand, Saddam referred to the proceedings as a “comedy.” I think he has his genres mixed up – the grandstanding, the eccentric outbursts, the walkouts, the codefendants in long johns and the resignation of the original judge all smack of a soap opera.
Saddam put on his usual theatrics, ranting on to the extent that the judge kicked reporters out of the courtroom and cut the TV feed. Yep, apparently those few Iraqis who have electrical power have been sitting glued to their TV sets; it’s this millennium’s OJ trial.
To his credit, the judge discerned that the outside audience was only encouraging Saddam to put on a show. He clearly likes the sound of his own voice, and has to be the center of attention in any setting, it seems.
Hours later, when the judge allowed reporters back in, Saddam refused to answer questions and instead made demands. The trial was then adjourned until April 5.
If you’ve been following along, there have only been a handful of days court has actually been in session since the trial began last autumn. It's been a bit bumpy and fragmented.
Saddam has admitted that he ordered the killing of 148 people, for which he is currently being tried. But his defense team insists he had the authority to do so, since they all – men and boys – had allegedly been involved in a plot to kill him.
It’s probably happened before (maybe at Nuremberg?), but I can’t recall a defense team declaring that summary executions were a lawful remedy for anything.
Common sense tells us the killings were carried out to send fear into the hearts of his subjects that this is what you get when you mess with Saddam, and to slake Saddam’s homicidal anger at the treachery.
Now doesn’t that sound like a reasonable defense?